It’s Donnelly’s policy not to approach someone until he’s sure that he can hit them with what they’ve done hard enough to get a real reaction. It’s an old trick, but it’s a good one. It was a cheap shock tactic, but it worked, it worked almost every time - if someone thought you had them in the bag, they would almost invariably put themselves into it.
Detective Fusco is a cop, though. He knows that tactic, or he should, but when Donnelly slams down a stack of papers on the man’s desk, to see him jump and turn his eyes up guiltily for that split second before he pulls a facade of confusion over it. Donnelly thinks that the others in the department are either willfully blind, or Fusco just sinks so far under their radar that even with this, he was harmless.
"Can I help you, Agent?" Fusco asks, dropping his pen with just the right amount of false irritation that it almost covers up the flighty way he’s shifted in his chair, the way he looks about two seconds from bolting.
"We’ve finished analyzing that book you turned in," Donnelly says, flatly, but he doesn’t bother to lower his tone. Fusco is practically squirming, because everyone in the department has stopped.
"I thought you guys finished that months ago," Fusco says, flat, wrote - he’s playing along, doing a halfway decent job of it except for the way his eyes refuse to meet Donnelly’s for more than a fraction of a second, and the developing sheen of sweat over the bridge of his nose and on his jowly cheeks.
"We finished with the remaining pages, but as you know, two were missing," Donnelly says, leaning further over the desk, pressing the advantage of his height. "Do you want to talk about what we learned here, or someplace quieter, Detective?"
Lionel Fusco has gone pale, but he nods, glancing over at Carter’s desk before he gets up. Half the interrogation rooms are full, but Donnelly knows the schedule well enough to know the back one is empty and quiet. He tucks the sheaf of papers under his arm and leads the way, and Detective Fusco, to his credit, doesn’t do something stupid like make a break.
Would have made this easier. Fusco sits down in the chair on the other side of the table and looks up at Donnelly like he’s ready to be yelled at, and that’s… what makes him pause. He drops the file on the table, flips it open, but he doesn’t raise his voice.
"We pulled impressions from the two missing pages off of the pages behind them, Detective," he says, displaying the restored list of names. "It took some doing, but someone pulled those pages out."
Someone with something to lose. Someone who’s name was legible in the reconstruction. Someone who had handled the book directly, tampering with evidence. Donnelly straightens up to his full height. “See any names you recognize, Detective?”
Fusco barely glances at the paper. He reaches out stubby fingers, pulls the paper toward him as if to confirm, to be sure, and then he pushes it away again, and looks up. “So why not just arrest me?”
Donnelly puts his hands flat on the desk, tries to give his best impression that it was exactly where this was going. That Fusco was going to walk out of here in handcuffs, so he might as well resign himself to it and fess up. But he keeps his tone soft, empathetic. “You must have had an awfully good reason, Detective…”
"Yeah sure," Fusco says, and rolls his eyes, then he stands up, squares his shoulders and with Donnelly leaning down over the table and Fusco standing, there’s no height advantage. "Sure I had a great reason. But if you point out that I tampered with that book, the DA’s are gonna go crazy, right? Maybe the whole book was fake. Maybe, if I tampered with the evidence enough to get my own name out of it, maybe I falsified the whole thing."
Donnelly straightens up, but this play… wasn’t going to fly. He had the case on Fusco, but the Detective was right… it would pull apart a lot of other cases, if Fusco was smart enough about it.
"Maybe I did it because I was in a bad fuckin’ place. Maybe I did it because I’m addicted to stupid decisions," Fusco says, and he shrugs and tilts his chin up, brazen. "Maybe I didn’t do it at all, and you get to keep all your other catches and let my stupid ass go home and raise my kid."
Detective Fusco straightens his back and tries to carry himeslf out of the room with some dignity, without looking like he’s running, and Donnelly is wondering if it’s even worth it to show what he’s found to Carter, when his phone goes off in his pocket. He fishes it out absently, and there’s a text with no sender, and he thinks he’s probably addicted to stupid decisions too because he follows the directions on the screen even knowing who they’re from.
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